The benefits of church involvement for African-Americans: the perspectives of congregants, church staff, and the church pastor
Chaney, Cassandra D.
Previous research has indicated that African-Americans benefit physically, psychologically, and socially when they are involved with religious organizations. While research has consistently highlighted the importance of the African-American church for individuals, couples, and families, little research has examined the benefits of church involvement from the perspectives of congregants, church staff, and the church pastor. To address this largely overlooked disparity in the research, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 17 African-Americans who were regular and active members in an African-American Baptist church organization in the Midwest. Although participants represented only one religious denomination, they represented a variety of social classes and educational levels. The participants were asked questions that explored their views regarding what they considered to be the most beneficial aspects of church attendance. The qualitative data were analyzed using a grounded theory methodology to determine recurring themes that were mentioned and explained by the participants. The findings were compiled through detailed ethnographic fieldwork, transcripts, observational materials, and interviews. This paper will explore seven recurring themes, including: (a) Fellowship; (b) Evangelism and Discipleship; (c) Positive Internal experiences; (d) Family-like Connections; (e) The Provision of Hope; (f) Extensive Community Outreach; and (g) Pastoral Love for the Church. Narratives will be offered to support and illustrate each of these themes. Implications regarding the value of creating strong partnerships between social service agencies and African-American church organizations are also provided.
Chaney, Cassandra D. (2008), The benefits of church involvement for African-Americans: the perspectives of congregants, church staff, and the church pastor. Journal of Religion & Society, 10.
Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke Center, Creighton University
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